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Talking points

Seven things you might have missed Tuesday from the world of business

Corporate governance

Hanover Insurance CEO to step down

Frederick H. Eppinger, 56, longtime president of Worcester-based Hanover Insurance Group, said Tuesday that he is stepping down to spend time with his family and pursue other professional and personal interests. He has led the company since 2003 and is credited with turning around the home and auto insurer and ending its ill-fated venture into life insurance and annuities. He will remain in his current role until a successor is hired and will help with the transition until June 30. Hanover, among the top 25 US property and casualty insurers, made $282 million in profit last year. When Eppinger took over, it was primarily a regional insurer but now through subsidiaries writes insurance in 200 countries. — Deirdre Fernandes

Labor

Boston.com lays off 12 staffers

Boston Globe Media Partners LLC on Tuesday laid off a dozen writers and producers at Boston.com, roughly one-sixth of the website’s staff. Globe Media chief executive Mike Sheehan said the reduction is part of a broader strategy for the site that will take shape over two to three months, though he declined to provide details. The company has sought over the past two years to establish Boston.com, previously the online home of Boston Globe newspaper content, as a semi-autonomous news and entertainment site with its own identity. BostonGlobe.com, with a metered paywall, now hosts all stories and photos from the newspaper. “It’s an evolution,” Sheehan said. “One of the smartest things that was ever done at the Globe was separating BostonGlobe.com from Boston.com — taking Globe content off the Boston.com site and then building a very robust digital subscriber base that’s now third in the country for daily newspapers, behind The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.” The layoffs came a day after editor Tim Molloy said he would step down and followed last week’s announcement that general manager Corey Gottlieb was leaving to join the Boston-based fantasy sports company DraftKings Inc. Gottlieb and his successor, Eleanor Cleverly, said the downsizing is “designed to put Boston.com in a stronger and more sustainable position for growth.” They added that “we would be remiss to overlook the fact that this was also a people decision, one that affects the lives of many who have worked tirelessly to support our operation. We are deeply grateful for that work.” — CALLUM BORCHERS

Labor

UPS hiring up to 95,000 holiday season workers

NEW YORK — UPS will hire 90,000 to 95,000 employees — about the same as last year — to help handle holiday deliveries. The company has struggled to handle a crush of online orders over the past two holiday seasons, when retailers entice people into buying last-minute gifts by offering free shipping. Millions of packages arrived late in 2013 and 2014. UPS said it is better prepared this year. The seasonal jobs will last from November to January; in some cases, jobs will become permanent. UPS will pay a minimum wage of $10.10 an hour, and some driving jobs will pay about $30 an hour. Applications must be submitted online. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

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Labor

Billerica cleaning contractor ordered to rehire union janitors

A Billerica cleaning contractor violated labor laws when it refused to rehire union janitors after taking over two accounts in Lowell and Acton this year, a National Labor Relations Board judge has ruled. The judge ordered Emerald Green Building Services to pay back wages to at least 26 workers, several of whom were rehired by Emerald Green at a lower hourly rate when the contract changed hands. The company must also reinstate workers who lost jobs at the Cross Point office towers in Lowell and Nagog Park in Acton and bargain with 32BJ Service Employees International Union, the union that formerly represented workers at the site. The back wages could total more than $100,000, according to 32BJ. Emerald Green president Paul McAleer said the company would appeal the ruling. Currently, the Emerald Green workers make as little as $10.65 an hour and are members of Teamsters Local 25, an agreement the judge said the employer entered into illegally. Until the current 32BJ contract expires next fall, the workers will earn their previous benefits and hourly rate of $13, 32BJ said.
— KATIE JOHNSTON

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Aviation

Controllers reveal risk that could cause plane collisions

WASHINGTON — Five air traffic controllers have exposed a problem that they say can put planes at risk of colliding or having accidents due to wake turbulence. The problem occurs when pilots, air traffic control centers, or airline dispatchers revise flight plans, according to letters sent to the White House and Congress by the Office of Special Counsel, an independent agency that protects whistle-blowers. The computers that controllers use don’t automatically show when multiple flight plans have been filed, the letters said. This can result in a controller clearing a flight for departure based on an outdated plan, and the pilots flying a route not anticipated or planned for by the controller. As a consequence, controllers have to review flight plans, call pilots, and search through printouts tracking a flight’s progress to compare prior plans with new data displayed on computers, a statement by the counsel’s office said. The Federal Aviation Administration has confirmed the problem and revived a working group first created in 2012 to address the matter. An audit earlier this year showed the group had little impact and the problem remained, the counsel’s office said. The controllers who blew the whistle on the problem work at Detroit Metropolitan Airport. ‘‘The whistle-blowers in Detroit deserve our deep gratitude,’’ Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner said. ‘‘While more work needs to be done, their actions reignited efforts to address the problems.’’ — ASSOCIATED PRESS

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Food

Wine and tapas? Taco Bell will serve both

NEW YORK — What kind of wine pairs best with a Chalupa? Taco Bell customers in Chicago and San Francisco can soon find out. The chain will open a location that serves wine and beer for for $4 and sangria for $4.50 in Chicago next week — its first time serving alcohol in the United States. The new restaurant will also feature trends Taco Bell says it is seeing among millennials: ‘‘tapas-style’’ appetizers and an open kitchen. A similar store will open in San Francisco this month. Taco Bell is not alone in trying alcohol to boost sales. Starbucks has been rolling out wine, beer, and small dishes at select US locations, and Chipotle serves margaritas and beer at some restaurants. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

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Investing

Investors betting Fed will hold the line on rates, ETF data show

Investors rushed into bond exchange-traded funds in the two weeks ended Sept. 11, with the largest inflows since February, indicating less concern that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates this week, according to a firm that tracks the investments. Bond ETFs saw inflows of $9.8 billion during the two-week period, according to TrimTabs Investment Research. “If people were concerned that the Fed was going to move on Thursday,’’ said David Santschi, chief executive of TrimTabs, “they probably wouldn’t be piling into bonds.” Investors have been debating the likelihood of the Fed raising rates, given the stock market’s volatility and concerns about a slowdown in China. Santschi said ETFs are a widely watched barometer, because they are used by active traders. Treasury bond ETFs hold $66 billion in assets, more than double the amount they held five years ago, he said. Corporate bond ETFs have grown even faster in that period, to $241 billion from $49 billion. Based on recent bond ETF trading patterns, Santschi said, if the Fed does raise rates Thursday, “that will be a shock to the market.”
— BETH HEALY

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